Mark Wilson March 18th, 2012
MITZPE RAMON–Today we finished our exploration of the Upper Cretaceous near Mitzpe Ramon, and then met some old friends for a different project near Ar’arat an-Naqab in the northernmost part of the Negev. This gave me the chance to take a picture of my three favorite Israeli geologists. (Yes, actually getting them to turn around for the camera would have been a bit too much stage management on my part!) On the left is Shlomo Ashkenazi, a retired geological technician and superb field assistant who still volunteers for the Geological Survey of Israel. In the center is Amihai Sneh, also retired from the survey (retirement doesn’t mean much for geologists!) and a mapping genius, and then Yoav Avni, who you met earlier in these posts. At their knees you see a light brown unit that was the subject of our meeting. It is a dolomite, apparently from the Miocene, that has structures in it that may be trace fossils. They wanted my opinion.
We explored the area around a Bedouin city, one of three in Israel. This is Ar’arat an-Naqab. A “Bedouin city” would have been a contradiction in terms a generation ago. The Bedouin were a nomadic people in this region. The Israeli government set aside land for the settlement of Bedouin, and these modern cities are the result. There is still considerable tension, though, with Bedouin who remain in tents and other structures on what is officially government land. The motivation for them to leave several acres of land they have claimed so that they can live in apartments is, as you can imagine, rather low. We talked to several Bedouin today as we looked for outcrops. Since we were in a government vehicle, there was some suspicion that we were plotting to take their land, but once we explained our geological mission, all was well.
Thus ends the 2012 Wooster Geology expedition to Israel. All our goals were met, and we were once again surprised by how many new things we saw and learned. It has been a wonderful adventure! Thank you again to The College of Wooster and donors and granting agencies who have made such trips possible.